Speculation on what the major retailers will be creating for this year’s Christmas advert has been brewing for months, but social change company, Shape History – in aid of children’s charity hospice Shooting Star Chase – want to remind audiences of the true meaning of Christmas. Through the release of a poignant, emotional and truly moving film on 6 November, the agency has stripped the theme of the festive period back to the fundamentals of family, and in the process, are providing a platform for the hundreds of people across the UK who will be spending their first Christmas this year without a loved one.
“Our organisation recently lost a friend at 21 years old due to cancer and having discussed it with those around us, we really wanted to try and support families who are going through something similar. Christmas can be a difficult time for those who may no longer have their loved ones around. Retailers are annually pumping budgets of millions into Christmas advertising and it can distract away from the true meaning of the festive period. We wanted to essentially hijack that and remind the British public that the festive period is about looking out for the most vulnerable in society and being there for your nearest and dearest,” says Mike Buonaiuto, Executive Director of Shape History.
Set to rival the likes of John Lewis, M&S and Sainsbury’s, the film explores the themes of bereavement and the effect of personal loss. The ad tells the story of a heartbroken father, struggling to come to terms with the passing of his son due to Cancer. As the rest of the family attempt to support each other on the run up to their first Christmas without their son and brother, we see the impact of a family coping with grief and ultimately, how they come together.
Adam Petrie, Director of Communications and Marketing at Shooting Star Chase says: “Shooting Star Chase exists to make every moment count by offering the very best care from diagnosis to end of life and in bereavement. Christmas is a time where family is so important and therefore can be particularly difficult for those who have lost a loved one. As well as supporting families through the heart-breaking moments no parent should ever have to experience, we also create moments families will cherish forever and we hope this campaign will raise awareness of our vital work and encourage people to help us provide memories that are precious and unforgettable.”
Attempting to do the topic as much justice as possible, Shape History worked closely with the Surrey based Barker family, whose son Matthias, sadly died after his battle with cancer. The family kindly donated images of their son, alongside Matthias’ personal football memorabilia to the film, with the hopes that by sharing his story, it might bring the topic to the forefront of public consciousness and lend support to those going through similar situations.
“I truly hope this film will raise awareness about families trying to get through Christmas despite the torturous pain they may be feeling within.I hope it creates a realisation that many families will be celebrating Christmas without their loved ones, and will be trying to get through bearing a great deal of pain. It will show that family support is crucial to surviving the pain and the film will be hugely supportive to many people this Christmas in a similar situation to us,”says Rosie Barker, Matthias’ mother.
The film is raising money for the charity Shooting Star Chase, directing audiences to a donate page, which will see all proceeds going to the running of their two hospices. Matthias sadly passed away on 23rd December, 2011, but by lending their support to the film, the Barker family are reminding the nation and those going through similar experiences that they are not alone.